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Commonly asked

questions on

Feeding Birds


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Top 10 Bird feeding Questions & Answers
From Duncraft

1. What's the best way to clean my bird feeder?

How often? We recommend giving all feeders a good cleaning once a
month. Remove any seed and scrub clean with a mild soap. Rinse
well with fresh water. For Duncraft Haven feeders we suggest you
soak the Haven in a tub of water and clean the same way.

2. What's the best way to clean my birdbath?

We recommend washing your bath with water and white vinegar. Our
formulation is one tablespoon white vinegar to one gallon of
water. The vinegar will help to prevent algae growth. Water
should be changed every few days to insure a fresh, clear water

3. Should l offer suet to my birds in the summer?

For most of the continental U.S. we don't recommend suet during
the hot summer months. Suet turns rancid in the heat. If you want
to still use a suet product, we recommend the "Delight" suet
products that have a higher grain and lower fat content; these
are recommended for temperatures above 85 degrees and will not
drip as 'regular' suets will.

4. Won't the birds find natural foods in the summer?

Why should I still be putting out seed? Yes, birds will find
natural foods, and you may want to reduce your amounts. However,
we recommend that you still offer some seed so that you will have
the enjoyment of the birds at the time of year when you are
outdoors the most. Also, the birds are particularly pretty in the
summer -- for example, the American Goldfinch is brilliant lemon
yellow! Remember, throughout the year birds acquire the greater
part of their nourishment from natural sources not from us!

5. What is the best feeder to use to attract certain birds -
cardinals, chickadees, orioles, bluebirds etc?

Most small birds such as chickadees, nuthatches and titmice will
enjoy a tube feeder-- and when outfitted with a seed tray, larger
birds will be able to land (and balance!) and enjoy as well. The
cardinal will feed easily from an easy-access platform feeder or
fly-through feeder. You may attract the oriole to your yard with
our Fliteline feeder and orange nectar; orioles also enjoy grape
and strawberry jellies as well as an oranges cut in half.
Bluebirds like grains, fruits and mealworms, usually in an
enclosed platform. See our Bird Tips on specific birds for even
more details.

6. How can I keep other species of birds from taking up residence
in my bluebird or purple martin houses?

Check your birdhouse frequently to make sure that other species
have not started to build a nest. If you find that they are
building, remove their nest. Keep checking and removing! Check
your martin house: we advise not unplugging the entry holes until
you know martins are arriving (otherwise sparrows may take up
residence). For a bluebird house: make sure that the entry hole
has a predator guard to keep raccoons and other predators away.
Predators guards come as extra wood surrounding the entry hole;
or a guard may be purchased separately and installed (listed
under accessories with each of the bluebird houses on our site).

7. Is one variety of seed better than another?

How about a pure seed as opposed to a blend? No one variety is
better than another! However, Duncraft's custom blends have
different characteristics. We offer several No-Waste blends for
folks who do not want any debris of seed husks below their
feeders. We also offer seeds that appeal to particular birds and
we recommend them for folks who want to attract those specific
birds: safflower seed for cardinals (squirrels and grackles don't
like it!); Nyjer (or thistle) seed to attract goldfinches and
other finches. We offer shelled sunflower hearts because our
customers want this pure seed -- the birds love and eat every
bit! When asked to recommend a seed for beginning bird feeders,
Duncraft's Sharon Dunn always recommends black-oil sunflower seed
in the shell as the best all-round seed. "All the birdfeeding
studies show that this one seed is preferred by most backyard
birds," she says. "To attract the widest array of birds, large
and small, this is the best seed to start your birdfeeding
experience -- not with mixed seed from the supermarket, which
will waste your money with filler seeds that birds will flick

8. I love goldfinches and want them, but I don't want Nyjer seed
to sprout on my lawn -- will it?

All Nyjer (thistle) seed sold in the U.S. (to our knowledge) is
imported and is sterilized by heat immediately upon reaching
these shores. This procedure is under regulation from the US Dept
of Agriculture. Few procedures are 100% effective -- from time to
time there may be a stray bloom that rises -- it has a yellow
flower, is easily pulled and is not (again to our knowledge)
invasive, nor as prickled as the purple-bloomed Scottish Thistle.

9. What's the best way to keep squirrels away from my feeder?

First: Location, location, location. If at all possible, make
sure that squirrels cannot jump to your feeder from tree limb,
trunk, fence, ground, or parachute etc. (This is the very best
solution, but frequently not possible given our backyard
configurations and where we want to view our birds.) Second, if
squirrels can jump to your feeder, then defend it with a
protective baffle properly installed. Thirdly, some feeders are
designed specifically to keep squirrels away from the bird food:
some of the successful designs include Duncraft's Squirrel-Proof
Selective Haven, Duncraft Champion Squirrel-Blocker
and the Heritage Farm Absolute II

10. How can I keep bees away from hummingbird feeder?

There are few things you can do to keep bees from your
hummingbird feeder. Use feeder that has built-in bee guards like
the Four-Flower Frolic. The HumZinger Feeder denies bees access
to the nectar, too.

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